The Old Windmill, Brisbane

Brisbane, Australia

The Old Windmill, Brisbane

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The Old Windmill is a heritage-listed tower mill in Observatory Park adjacent to Wickham Park at 226 Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill, City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It was built in the 1820s by convict labour in the Moreton Bay penal settlement and is the oldest surviving building in Queensland. It is also known as Brisbane Observatory and Windmill Tower. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992. Today it is the centrepiece of Observatory Park and a lookout over parts of the Brisbane CBD.

The oldest convict-built structure surviving in Queensland, the windmill tower has accommodated a range of uses. Constructed in 1828 to process the wheat and corn crops of the Moreton Bay penal settlement, it had a treadmill attached for times when there was no wind but also as a tool for punishing convicts. The mill ceased grinding grain in 1845 and the treadmill was removed sometime before 1849. From 1855 the tower was reused as a signal station to communicate shipping news between the entrance of the Brisbane River and the town. Substantial renovations were made to it in 1861 including the installation of a time ball to assist in regulating clocks and watches. Twenty years later a cottage for the signalman was constructed to the immediate west of the tower, with a detached kitchen erected to the south two years after that. Both were later demolished. The windmill tower was used as a facility for early radio, telephony and television communications research from the 1920s and underwent substantial conservation work in the 1980s and 2009.

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